I remember the first day I got my new smartphone. I was in my car, and my phone beeped at me. I was in the vicinity of a wireless network in one of the houses fronting Route 7 in Burlington, Vermont, and my phone was asking me if I wanted to join "F*@# You" wireless network. Whoa! That surprised me.
After my momentary wonder at the necessity someone felt to swear at people who might see and/or try to log onto his network, I discarded the event and hadn't thought about it much until I read an article In BBC NEWS Magazine: The rise of passive-aggressive Wi-Fi network names.
It seems some people are now using their Wi-Fi network names to send a message to neighbors. Think of it as the anonymous Post-It Note stuck to someone's door complaining about the barking dog, the loud television, or the noisy sex. "We can hear you having sex" is apparently a popular Wi-Fi network name in Britain and Ireland. Others mentioned in the article include one person frustrated with people using his Wi-Fi network: "Covet not thy neighbour's wi-fi." (A simple password would probably work better.) Or the person whose print newspaper kept disappearing created the name: "Stop stealing my paper!"
The problem with an anonymous note is that, well, it's anonymous. By using your Wi-Fi network name to deliver a message, you are reducing the chances for any meaningful change. As satisfying as you may think it is to deliver the message, the reality is it's unlikely it will ever actually bring a resolution to the problem…if it even reaches the right eyes.
Bottom line: If you have an issue you want to address with a neighbor, ask to see her, talk to her calmly and non-confrontationally, explain your concern, ask her for her thoughts, and try to come to a reasonable resolution to the situation. If the problem actually is wi-fi mooching, the answer is simple: Put a password on it.
On the flip side, there isn't much you can do about someone else's rude Wi-Fi name. You could have the above-mentioned chat if you know who owns it, but chances are you don’t. If you have kids who might see it on a daily basis, talk to them about why these names are inappropriate.
Oh, and finally, maybe it's not your neighbors having loud sex; maybe it's their TV.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."